PZ's post on this is a tour de force. It's not about getting up the noses of the religious: it's about the power of symbols, and the danger of letting the symbols have too much power. It's about the use symbols have been put to that led to pain, suffering and death for those deemed other. I'll just give you the closing paragraph, because it says everything that needs to be said:
Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet. You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity's knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.
Even if you think Jesus is your lord, and you believe God is great, the rest of that paragraph pertains to you. The moment you don't think it does is the moment you run the risk of becoming one of those poor, deluded fools who believe that in order to save a cracker from an ignoble end, you must murder a human being. You disrespect your god by believing he is so limited that he can be injured by the actions of one non-believer. You show that faith is a fragile, hopeless thing, a weapon that harms rather than heals.
What is the sacred if it's not something so transcendent that it can survive any attempt to destroy it?
It's too bad so many people are so small and insecure that they miss the truth. I hope that PZ's courageous cracker contempt drops the scales from at least a few of their eyes. Alas, I'm not holding my breath.
I found the early part of PZ's post, where he gave some historical context, most enlightening (and disturbing). I think those that wish to threaten him would do well to read it and try to absorb what it means, though I hold out no hope that the set of people who would read and understand it and the set of people who need to absorb what it's telling them have anything but a null intersection.
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